Jean-Francois Chaumont of Radio-Canada.ca caught up with Roberto Luongo at the goaltender’s celebrity golf-tournament in Anjou recently. The original French version of the article can be found here.
The piece contains some interesting insights into how the goaltender is coping with the Canucks close-but-no-cigar run to the Stanley Cup Finals this summer. Luongo japes that – because he lives in Florida in the summer – he’s somewhat immune to much of the flack he’s been taking in the Canadian Press. The most interesting part to me, however, is his admission that he got "caught up in the moment" after game five, and that he regrets criticizing Tim Thomas’ goaltending style on Maxim Lapierre’s game-winner in the fifth game.
Here’s a full translation of Chaumont’s piece (translation by Stuart St-Amant):
Roberto Luongo found himself one win away from victory: to raise the Stanley Cup. Though finally the trophy went to Boston and Luongo suffered the fire of criticism.
Luongo was at the third edition of his annual golf tournament in Anjou, nearly two months to the day when the Canucks were eliminated in the seventh game of the finals against the Bruins.
Far from his mask and pads, the Goalie from St. Leonard returned to his own defeat.
"I thought of the finals earlier in the summer, but now I think it’s a part of the past." said Luongo. "I have good memories of last year, it was a very good season. But it sure hurts a little. I especially remember the last game in Vancouver. It’s hard to relive the final seconds of the seventh game in the Stanley Cup finals."
"Fortunately, I spend my summers in Florida and it’s pretty quiet there," said the 32 year old goaltender in consolation.
Luongo’s first final has been no fairy tale. Twice, he passed the torch to Cory Schneider and awarded 15 goals in three starts to Boston.
Again, his critics still remind him that he hasn’t won the big game. To this, Luongo remains calm.
"I’ve won a few things since I’ve started (gold medal at the Olympics in 2010), but I haven’t held the Stanley Cup. I know many goaltenders who also haven’t won the Cup. It’s a difficult feat to accomplish. I still haven’t got this trophy, but I don’t want it just to prove things to people."
After the fifth game of the finals in Vancouver, Luongo made the faux pas of criticizing Tim Thomas. He said that his rival was too aggressive coming out of his net.
Maxim Lapierre scored the only goal in a 1-0 win in the fifth game, jumping on an off target return shot.
Does Luongo regret the statement?
"Yeah, for sure. If I could do it again, I wouldn’t say it. I didn’t want to create the buzz that it did. After the fifth game, I had never been so emotional and I got carried away."
Too good a guy
At the golf tournament, Gilles Lupien would like more support for his client.
"Roberto is too good a guy, a really good guy." said Lupien, himself a former defenseman for the Montreal Canadiens. "Roberto always says it’s the team that wins, it’s never him. But every time the team loses, it’s always him. It’s a bit of a captain complex."
Lupien dished out a few old memories to explain.
"I had Serge Savard and Yvan Cournoyer as captain, but at times guys like Larry Robinson, Bob Gainey and Ken Dryden would stand up in the locker room. I don’t know if I’m throwing a rock in the wrong place, but there was a lack of leadership within the organization and with some players. I’m a little more shocked than him. "
Alexandre Burrows meanwhile, acknowledged that the blame didn’t fall on his teammate’s shoulders.
"We know that Roberto Luongo is one of the best goalkeepers in the league. You win and lose as a team, eh? We were that close to winning the Stanley Cup. He has done good things Roberto, and we support him to the fullest. But it is mostly the media that are tough on him, for no reason really."
Luongo now has another 11 seasons with the Canucks to fulfill his dream and at the same time, to silence his critics…